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December 1979

In Defense of Szasz: The Case for Medical Realism-Reply

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry SUNY Upstate Medical Center Syracuse, NY 13210

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(13):1461-1462. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780130079010

I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to Dr Cohn's thoughtful letter in which he suggests that I have committed a number of fallacies in my analysis of Thomas Szasz's theories. Dr Cohn's conviction appears to rest on a number of misapprehensions concerning my actual claims, as well as on certain conceptual and factual errors. It is unfortunate that space does not permit an appropriately detailed reply.

First, Dr Cohn is correct in warning us against the "genetic fallacy": the argument that equates a word's meaning with its etymology. I make no such argument in my article, however. I merely exhort the physician to examine the origins of the word "pathology" (pathos, suffering) to make an empirical and historical claim: namely, that the concept of disease originated as an explanation for the onset of suffering and incapacity in the absence of obvious injury.1

Second, I do not

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